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What's Involved With Opening an Account?

Once you've appropriately researched your discount-broker alternatives and decided on which one is right for you, you'll probably want to go ahead and open the account (rather than simply resting on your laurels for having done your homework).

Opening an account doesn't require much more than filling out an application. Don't worry about the word "application" -- we haven't heard of anybody getting turned down. However, being approved to open a margin account (i.e., an account that permits you to borrow money from the broker) might be a problem if you have a horrible credit history. But an account that is funded entirely by your own cash is most likely going to be approved.

You download the application forms, sign them, enclose them in an envelope with a check to initially fund your account, and you'll receive confirmation of your ability to start trading in pretty short order. Voila!

The application will want you to choose among different types of accounts, which we explain here.

And to start investing, you don't need much more than your computer, some moolah, and a bit of investing know-how.

Read/Post Comments (22) | Recommend This Article (71)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2012, at 8:34 PM, greens2000 wrote:

    Can someone advise on a broker if you are living outside of the US?

  • Report this Comment On January 20, 2012, at 5:08 AM, tenoclock wrote:

    I also need advice on a broker as I don't reside in the US.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2012, at 7:24 PM, Angelsfeartotred wrote:

    I need advice on getting a broker as I don't reside in the US. I am retired in Malta. There is an HSBC here.

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2012, at 2:16 PM, ABBOTSWANA wrote:

    How do I open a broker account if I am living in Africa?

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 12:36 AM, raveling wrote:


    I'm a Canadian expat resident in Japan, and I want to invest for retirement savings.

    I'm looking for an e-trader that has a drp retirement account I can use.

    A lot of the e trade site are for American citizens only.

    Can anyone give me advice about this?


  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 1:12 AM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    I would really recommend against opening a margin account even if you have great credit.

    The first online brokerage account I opened was with TD Ameritrade. It is pretty straightforward. The only thing that I hadn't expected was that they asked for my net worth. I had just never taken the time to compute it before.

  • Report this Comment On December 12, 2012, at 11:17 AM, Fyans2 wrote:

    I have opened sharebuilder as an options account - why isn't this on the list comparing various houses?

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2012, at 12:39 PM, Johnson54 wrote:

    How 2 start pls anybody should help me up by calling me on 08082276859 i want 2 make money too.... I dn't know how 2 pay in money or 2 invest... Pls help me... God bless Nigeria ( U ).....

  • Report this Comment On March 26, 2013, at 9:59 PM, Jose48 wrote:

    Can you advise on a broker if you are living outside of the US? Argentina, Spain.

  • Report this Comment On May 10, 2013, at 3:08 PM, b3097564 wrote:

    I have a checking and savings account with TD Bank. I started these accounts about 2 years ago and I have been very happy with TD Banks services. I know that TD Bank has an investing service - I don't see anything wrong with it.

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2013, at 5:12 AM, wilson23 wrote:

    hi,i live in australia and want to invest in the NASDAQ, could you please advise on how to open an account/choose a broker. thanks john

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2013, at 9:30 PM, Johnye wrote:

    Is there an age limit for setting up a roth account

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2014, at 12:57 AM, cowboyjunky wrote:

    I do not live in the US I live in Canada, can you advise me on how to invest/open an account/& also i am investing with BMO should i contact them for my investment's. Thank YOU:cowboyjunky

  • Report this Comment On October 28, 2014, at 8:01 AM, Jakartasmog wrote:

    I am not a US citizen and live in Indonesia. Can anyone recommend a broker who can handle my trades including options?

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2015, at 12:49 AM, webpaj wrote:

    I'm a beginner at this. Filling out the new account application for Scwab, I learned that an Equifax credit search was required. I had poor credit, and it's going to be on any credit report. I'm back on my feet for 2 years, but I don't know where to open a brokerage account. Can anyone advise? Thank you.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2015, at 6:06 PM, EGK99 wrote:

    Why we cannot open an account directly with Motley Fool?

  • Report this Comment On June 17, 2015, at 4:14 AM, Wbvice wrote:

    I too want to know how to open an account and buy stock if you are a US citizen living abroad.

  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2015, at 4:46 PM, sherryn610 wrote:

    How come every service is extra? I am retired and want to get all the info I can about increasing my nest egg so I can continue living at my current lifestyle, comfortable, but not extravagant. I paid for a membership and everything else I'd like to look into costs more money that I can't afford!


  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2015, at 4:47 PM, sherryn610 wrote:

    P.s.i am so very new at this. Have never invested on my own before. Need all the help I can get!

  • Report this Comment On July 19, 2015, at 4:33 PM, areyoutruthful wrote:

    who has had good information brought to them and will explain choices? Opinions on a broker?

    Please comment

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2015, at 2:37 AM, racsoeel wrote:

    Does the Fool have a brokerage unit?

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2016, at 5:34 PM, Habonilla wrote:

    I use Merrill lynch to trade but I don't think it's working for me what would you guys recommend ? Plus it's not compatible with this site

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